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Tag Archives: depression

The Well

There are still tears
For you, around corners
I have avoided, nested into objects
Unexpected, curled up in words.
They well under memories
Until released, into the open,
Jostled by a stray scent,
Nudged by a colour,
A page of a book,
A wind in leaves.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2014 in Family, Poetry

 

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High-functioning

Not all people with depression are home lying in a darkened room. Not all depressed people sit with the curtains drawn listening to Morrissey or reading Emily Dickinson. There are people with profound depression who would surprise you, if you knew. But you don’t know they are depressed. They won’t tell you and you won’t notice. They are noncomplaining, high-functioning, dependable individuals who can work next to you each day without giving you so much as a clue to the noise in their heads and the pain in their hearts.

I already regret that last line. I don’t want to be maudlin. I want to present the facts. Let me try this again. There are people we see, know, work next to, who are profoundly, clinically, depressed, who have trouble finding any joy in daily activities, no longer enjoy things they used to, feel little motivation, are noncomplaining, high-functioning, dependable, creative, responsible people. They show up, do their jobs, often volunteer in their communities, and leave those around them with no idea anything is wrong.

You wouldn’t know. Let me tell you.

Nights are sometimes spent curled up in a chair, in a ball, head racing with the most horrible thoughts. There is nothing to do to calm this. Not meditation. Long talks with monks. Rabbis, ministers. Self-help books. Workshops. Guilt doesn’t work. Gratitude for a wonderful life filled with love and laughter and everything one would need doesn’t work.

Psychotherapy. Gestalt. Rational Emotive Therapy. Bioenergetic. Breathwork. Tired of seeking help. Tired of trying. Tired of everything. Tired.

There is nothing to take to calm this. There are no drugs to take because anything that would help could also harm, and so is not kept in the house in any reasonable quantity. Some self-medicate – alcohol, pot – but most do not. At some point, one goes to bed.

The nights are long. Sometimes sleepless, sometimes sleep laced with dreams of failure, or frustration, or remembrance. Sleep is something looked forward to, as, when it does come, the only solace, the only refuge. But prior to sleep, always the thoughts, please, please let this be the last time this bed is laid in. Let tomorrow not come.

But it does, and even with the practice in gratitude, with years of meditation, with knowing the problem is chemical or structural, knowing one has a wonderful life, still, regardless, the first thought upon waking is “Damn. Not again.” Sometimes less polite. And the thoughts start right up again. “This has to stop. This has to. I can’t take this anymore. I just don’t want to do this anymore. I’m done here. I just want to rest.” But there isn’t any.

Morning is a trudge. The daily common activities are chores, but they must be done. And the thoughts, always. Pointless to do anything, but one has a job.

Work. Self-medication begins with music. Maybe coffee – high caffeine. Loud music. Nineties Alt today, Or Tool. Maybe some Sixties’ Psychedelic. One sings. People stop in. There are meetings and conversations. Things get done. Reviews and evaluations are done. All are stellar. Inside, this feels like slogging. Forced. Exhausting. Outside, effortless. Gliding. Flowing. The day ends.

A second job or a volunteer event. Be involved. Or a long walk. Or Gym. One mustn’t seem lazy. One mustn’t seem as though one isn’t taking care of oneself. But going home is the last thing to do. How long can it be put off? Out, at least there is something to occupy the mind. Some days are harder than others. The thoughts are more dense. Some days the thoughts are still there but they don’t come as fast, as thickly. One can distract the mind. One is less prone to cry.

As the evening wears, home cannot be avoided forever. It is quiet. Maybe some TV. Maybe some reading. But there is no escaping what is going on inside. Another mental inventory of the medicine cabinet. No, nothing. Good. Good? People would be upset. People would be hurt.

Calling someone might help. Don’t do it. Don’t complain. Don’t even mention it. People would figure you were too much trouble to deal with. Depressed people are difficult to have around. They bring you down. They won’t love you anymore. You will lose the people you love.

Bed. Bed. Please, please don’t let me wake up again.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2013 in psychology, Suicide

 

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Great Mender

I have felt agitated the last few days. I have been running hot, feeling anxious. It has taken a while to figure out why. Once it was pointed out to me, though, I put my finger on it. I had been taking Great Mender for a busted rib. Jin Gu Die Shang Wan tends to heat the body. Mine is already on the hot side so there are certain herbs I don’t take as they will create even more excess heat. Americans tend to run hot as it is. Then we take red ginseng and other herbs that heat us further. Great Mender is wonderful for helping heal bone injuries but I should have taken something to help reduce the heat from it.

We treat herbs as though they are not medicines. Strange. We think they are powerful enough to be of use but not powerful enough to take the needed precautions. We self-prescribe without knowing much about them or how they interact with different conditions, constitutions, herbs or medications. We treat them like Western medicines when most herbs should be used to treat underlying causes and not overlying symptoms.

Of course, many MDs will do just the opposite, telling the patient herbs are of no use and then forbidding their use. Which is it? If they are powerless, why prohibit their use? But then contradictory stances are nothing new in Western Medicine.

So I cut the dosage down and am feeling better and still healing. The agitation has gone away.

I was feeling useless. With Shelley taking up so much of the day to day functions in the office, I am left to massage therapy, working on patients in tandem with Lee, creating web content, setting up public events, promotion, networking, publicity, and writing a series of essays, poetry and a novel while supervising the illustration of the last children’s book. On top of that, I started a Free Market downtown.

And so I have been feeling as though I am not pulling my weight, even though the weight pulled may well have been quite excessive at the beginning, even though the inertia of that pull is still carrying us forward, I ask, and have done so out loud to my office-mates, “What have I done for us lately?”

I am supposed to take more time to write. When I do, I feel I am shirking my work at the office, most of which is being handled more than ably by Shelley. So she schedules clients most likely to need me around the same time so I am able to take half days or full days to write.

I recognized feeling that was neither here nor there. All the ways I felt are based in real feelings, real assumptions I have of myself, but they were just excuses I used for the agitation. The feelings were there anyway but they were not the cause.

Still, I sat and went over all the horrible things I so often think about me. I spent far too long on this.

Then I thought of the wonderful things people say about me. How misguided they must be. Obviously terrible judges of character. Should I trust people who know me to… See, I will examine this to death. And the more I do so, the more ridiculous it will get. Good, it needs to be obviously ridiculous.

When someone has something negative to say, it is always worth looking at. What grain of truth might there be in it? None? Perhaps. Does something of it ring true? If so, can I learn and grow from it?

If I can learn from that, how about the positive? Should I not listen to that, examine it, learn and grow from it?

Am I really a mensch? Am I really a good man? Does no one really try harder?

My Tibetan name, is Karma Bondru Zangpo. Excellent Diligence. Such a name, given when one takes Buddhist Refuge, is a lesson. It is called a Dharma Name, and it is the person’s best, most prevalent quality. It is also that person’s biggest, most prevalent trap. It is the trait that makes them wonderful and that which trips them up. It is what they do. It is their undoing.

As I diligently examine myself into a state of anxiety, I think of my name, slow down and become just a bit less diligent. The anxiety dissipates just a little.

I have just had the air conditioner replaced in my office. The handyman did not move anything before setting to work. A bookcase fell. The CD cases not broken before are more than broken now. It takes me two hours to clean up the mess. Broken plastic, plaster, sheetrock, books, CDs, cards. It is an opportunity to examine what was there and move something to the front that had, over time, moved to the back of the bookcase. Time to take stock and time to thin the herd.

I find an envelope. It is from a class I took two, maybe three years ago when I was teaching middle school. We work during the summers, most teachers do not have long summer spans free, and this was just one of the many summer classes I had to take. This one was on poetry. Poetry Alive. How to spoon feed sugar-coated poetry to kids who have no interest in it at all. They do performances and classes in school all over the US. That explains quite a bit. The class itself was awful. The idea was to have kids perform poetry instead of read it. If they perform it, they will have to investigate the poems more fully, get deeper into them. Perhaps. But, in the end, it taught close reading, as I taught, and the performance aspect was just a way to allow the teacher to grade the students when a discussion, a real discussion, long, without goal, without preconceived ideas, would have done much better and be far less tacky.

More often than not it resulted in bad performances that would drive even the most ardent lover of poetry to prefer spending his or her time watching reality TV instead.

The teacher for the course had each of us make a bag, a small brown lunchbag, and put it up on the wall. Anytime we felt the desire to say something nice, to compliment a fellow student, we were supposed to write it on a piece of paper and put it in their bag. It was supposed to be anonymous.

We were supposed to decorate it in a way that portrayed our true selves. I did this by not taking a bag. No bag, no decorating. Not pinning it to a wall. No thank you. So the teacher did it for me. Now there’s a lesson for me.

I still do not understand why the notes could not be given directly to the person. Why we could simply not have told the other person. Why was it supposed to be secret?

I pull out that bag now and remove the varying slips of paper.

You are always such a patient and compassionate example to those in the group. You work so hard to help others and to understand them – who they are and what they need. This group would certainly be less without you in it.

Adam, Sometimes I feel like you hold back on getting to know people or letting others know you. You are a wonderful friend, love to spend time with you.

Adam, You exude wit and intelligence and keep me on my toes.

Sage, poet, artist, warm-hearted man. WOW.

An honest sage and philosopher always when we need it most.

I am always amazed at you when we talk.

Thanks for the reality checks.

You are an intelligent, insightful person though, at times, you overanalyze a situation.

Of course I can’t believe people who know me too well and these people don’t know me well enough to be believed. How far do you think that thinking will get me?

Looking at these comments, I realize this must be a different bag. None of this is about poetry, or teaching. Somehow, at some other time, I must have done this exercise with another group. I can’t recall, but the evidence is in my hands.

Evidence. Now comes the analysis. I’ll let you know how it comes out.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2009 in Culture, Education, Poetry, psychology, Social, Suicide

 

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